Rocky mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes,vast glaciers, a beautiful mountain town, abundant wildlife and scenic drives…this is what summarizes the beautiful Banff National Park. It lies along the Canadian Rockies between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.
Banff is also a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
A perspective on Banff and the Rocky Mountains:
Banff National park is Canada’s first National park and encompasses more than 2500 sq miles of pristine wilderness.The Bow Valley which lies in the park is home to two small communities. The town of Banff at 4500 feet above sea level and Lake Louise which provides the base camp for hiking trails and other activities around the turquoise waters of Lake Louise itself.From here the Ice fields Parkway leads to truly remote destinations and glaciers and borders the Jasper National Park.
The Trans Canada Highway runs through the park and makes it easy to connect with Banff, Lake Louise and the Ice fields.
Banff is an all season destination with summer being most popular when you have ice free lakes and blooming alpine flowers.The park is home to grizzly bears, elk, moose ,coyotes and big horn sheep.The lakes have abundant trout and salmon.
For some time, the park officials have been concerned about the effects of vast human presence in and around this region that could affect the wildlife. Besides the Trans Canada Highway, trains pass through it on the Canadian Pacific tracks which are a major east west link. Concerns on climate change with gradually increasing temperatures with melting and retreating glaciers also exist.
Retreating glaciers had left behind vivid blue lakes colored with glacial silt and canyons carved by water.
In 1883 employees of the Canadian Pacific Railway discovered a cluster of natural hot springs near the present Banff National Park. Squabbles over the ownership of these springs led the government to declare the area around the springs as a natural reserve.Subsequently more areas were added and it was declared a National park. That is how the beautiful Banff National Park was born…
Come on now….let’s visit this beauty
Calgary…the gateway to the Rockies was our starting point for this amazing tour of the Canadian Rockies with an online booking with a tour company.
Picked up at Calgary airport along with another family, we were driven by road to Banff.
A little bit about this amazing town…
Banff is a resort town in Alberta, located within the Banff national park. Approximately 126 km from Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway,this resort town offers entertainment in summer and winter.The peaks of Mt Rundle and Mt Cascade dominate its skyline. The center of Banff town is Banff Avenue which is a thoroughfare with restaurants, boutiques, chateau style hotels, and souvenir shops.
Banff Avenue….the center of Banff town
A leisurely stay at Banff for two days is recommended to cover Banff town, the Gondola and visit to Lake Louise. Hiking, canoeing snowboarding horse riding and such activities add value to this beautiful town.
We visited in peak season and could not get accommodation at Banff. So we spent a few hours at Banff town walking along the avenue and savoring the beauty of the place.
Our guide took us on The Bow River trail…( remember we had seen Bow River at Calgary).
It is a short walk from Banff Avenue ; a nice picnic destination with the Bow river, and benches to rest. Enjoyed the scenery and took some great pictures here.
The Bow River Trail
Horse riding along the Bow River Trail
A beautiful log house on the banks of Bow River
The Banff Upper Hot Springs have now been commercially developed and is located 4 kms from Banff Town. One can enjoy the hot pools and have great views of Mt Rundle. The water to the springs comes through cracks and crevices in Sulphur Mountain and hence lot of medicinal value is attributed to it.
Hot Springs at Banff
After the sightseeing at Banff, we were driven to Canmore…a small town close by for our overnight stay.
Canmore is also a beautiful place…some pictures..
Next morning we left for Lake Louise...a hamlet in Banff national park, known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake surrounded by high peaks. The turquoise color of water comes from the rock flour carried into the lake by the melt water from the surrounding glaciers.
This lake is converted into a skating rink in winter and has canoeing options in summer
Hiking trails take you to some of the peaks surrounding the lake
The lake is extremely beautiful and the scenery breathtaking…to say the least…
Have a look…
The beautiful Lake Louise with Victoria Glacier in the backdrop
Canoeing point at Lake Louise
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel
We spent some time by the Lake Louise and visited the Fairmont hotel that overlooks the lake.
There was a carpet of alpine flowers on the banks of Lake Louise…take a look
The Alpine flowers on the banks of Lake Louise
There are a lot of hiking trails from Lake Louise which one can explore to reach various heights in the Rockies.
Another great way to explore the Rockies is to take the Rocky Mountaineer…..a luxury train running on the US Canada border . This train started in 1990 covers the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta in Canada and Colorado and Utah in the US and covers a distance of 4800 km. The glass dome of the train is suited for sightseeing and it also has a viewing platform from where one can enjoy the scenery. Meant primarily for sightseeing; this train runs only during the daytime and the passengers are accommodated at hotels along the way for the night. In 2007, Rocky Mountaineer was voted one of the most beautiful train journeys by National Geographic.
I don’t have to tell you the most important part….it costs a fortune to take this ride!!!
Never mind ….doesn’t cost a penny to see these beautiful pictures here…so take a look
Exterior and Interior of this mountain beauty…
Well I hope I have motivated at least a few of you to visit the Canadian Rockies…and if you thought its over…no its not….await some more awesome sights in next week’s episode on the Rockies …..the Athabasca Glacier…
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